Poetry: A Friendly Jab

On break, having coffee,
at a walk-to place from work.
Age came up.

Larry could always make me laugh,
a raised brow or expression,
his subtlety with humor,
the ability to play it straight
with a sincerity of stupidity.

We volunteered numbers,
all 40-somethings.
Larry looked serious.
“I just have one question.”

He’d set the bait. I knew better,
but one must play along.
I took the hook,
lest all fun be spoiled.
He looked straight at me,
and patiently awaited my response.

He was from the Buckeye State.
We met as underage roommates.
Both junior Air Force enlisted. Later
each married Texas gals
both opted for university:
Larry to UT, I to A&M.

As roommates, Larry thought me loud,
badly behaved, and unworthy of him.
He was classical. I was rock ‘n roll.
Incompatible, but no harm done.

Twenty years later
while wrapping up military careers
as Air Force officers,
he was a chopper pilot who served in Nam,
I was a B-52 crew dog.

When our paths again crossed,
we were distant friends, no more.

I asked, what’s your question, Colonel?
He asked, “If you are younger than I am, why
do you look so much older?”

I’m older than Larry now.
Rest in peace, my funny friend.

©Bill Reynolds

Look both ways. Mind the gaps.
All the best stories are past, or soon will be.
Remember.

Poetry: It’s Not For Everybody. Is it?

I almost never wanted this – to be a writer,
but I write, I drink too,
seldom too much
anymore.

That’s not discipline or pride,
it’s from bein’ too fuckin’ old.
Thinking of words, I write them and then
I point, and I say, “Hey look, I’m a writer.”

Quite certain that of the many who
thought they had taught me English
as an academic subject, who gave me
perhaps deserved grades without motive
with one exception, may groan in their graves.

A good man, Thornton looked at me, “Why
are you even here?” I think he knew.

School was mostly bull shit. I learned little,
but it was still involuntary servitude crap
I never wanted to do again. Not like that.
Even college.

Today, I might not kill them,
but they might think I would. Back then,
I thought I needed them. Now I know.
One or two might scare a bit. Maybe.

A few. Very few. Assholes are not
educated out of it. But I write.
Look at me.

I think I always liked it (writing that is),
but nobody ever (till years later)
said that I was good at it. Maybe Thornton
hinted. Even Miff W. said, “You know,
college is not for everybody.”

Maybe not Miffy baby, but it was for me.
Surprised? Don’t be. You motivated me.

Look both ways, maybe with some bitterness and sarcasm.
Find motivation in the gaps.

Poetry: The Autumnist (NaPoWriMo) Day Twenty-five

Taking a cue from the John Keats poem, To Autumn, I must write a poem that is specific to a season, uses imagery related to five senses (I used more than five), and includes a rhetorical question, such as where are the songs of spring from the Keats poem.

Wasted days and wasted nights
for the sheer pleasure of guiltless
unproductive quietude of awareness,
as days are for summer, so are
nights fit for winter.
Loving both, I favor the transitions
of dusk and dawn, different but equal.

Each year, I am not the same person
I was. Nor am I the same each season.
I am at least four, maybe more
as I sense the changes each year
with each season, each day
brings new perceptions.

I belong within reality and metaphorically,
spiritually, and practically
somewhere within a transition
from summer to winter. An
autumnist is what I am,
but different of type with the
arrival of my knowing about cold
temperatures before I walk
and see changing leaves, I miss the
now gone migrating birds.
I do not hear them now.

Gradually, it seems, everyone thinks pumpkin
is my choice of taste, and the
traditional spice. Smell that
pumpkin pie or is that your latte?

The brisk autumn air is more
noticeable than in spring. It feels
different, more promising.

Pain seems less in Fall than
in Summer. I dance more at
Octoberfest, my balance is stable
and my sense of thirst has proven
stronger. I know my place
during those months with Halloween
and Thanksgiving.

Even my sense of passing time,
it’s more acute when the dog days
have come and gone. It is Spring
now—who will I be this year?
And next? What then? And
what about you?

© Bill Reynolds, 4/25/2019

Look both ways for seasons gone and those in years yet to come.
Mind the gaps when days visit from other times.

Poetry: Our Place in Line (NaPoWriMo) Day Eighteen

Today, the NaPo lady challenged me to write an elegy of my own. One in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail.

As far back into childhood I recall,
they say my day, my time, will come.
One day, perhaps quietly
or in some fitful mental agony
it will be my time to die.
But the bell has not
yet tolled for me—
soon enough—
it will.

Every pet, dog or cat,
lightning bug in a jar, turtle
or Easter chick; every snake, worm, or
ant; butterfly or bird, fish
or tarantula , things that flew,
crawled, walked or ran,
or just a sighting in the wild—
they’re all dead now—
I don’t know
what that is—
but they’re gone.

Every childhood friend is dead,
my mother died long after dad,
sisters both gone,
(estranged brother
I don’t know about,
he may outlive me,
if so, let it be).
I won’t know.

Uncles and aunts, one cousin (sort of) all
gone and others I don’t know about,
but they (ones I knew) are dead.
There may be some still doing,
but people of my memories
are past life. And this,
my friend,
is normal.

Some things don’t die, all people do.
Poets die (some never replaced)
but poems don’t.
The two most important
breaths we take,
the first and the last—
all the others
we call living.
That’s life,
Frank.

My sister would telephone,
“Billy” she’d say, “guess who died?”
she said, and then
she’d tell me.

When everyone and everything
I know of has died,
how do I know
who is next in line?
Is it I?
Or is it you?
Not if,
but when!

© Bill Reynolds, 2/18/2019

Know why you look both ways, otherwise, it is simply a meaningless turn of the head.
There will always be gaps but mind them anyway.

Poetry: A Good Pain (NaPoWriMo) Day Twelve

My poetry challenge on this Friday is to write a poem about two things of mine. One was to be a dull thing that I own, why and how I love it. The other was a significant thing I own and what it would mean for me to give away, or to destroy the object?

 

 

*** A Prose Poem

Technology is significant. Toenails are dull. We upgrade computers, cell phones, and tablets. We cut toenails and toss them. Sometimes we wonder why we have nails (sometimes I wonder about computers too). Computers get viruses, toenails get fungi. One seems to make my life easier, the other we may paint and glitz up for fashion. One costs hard-earned cash, while the other may be pedi-’d when we mani-, but they were originally free. Toenails are expendable. They can turn black, fall off, and then grow back – sometimes.

While tech stuff may be frustrating, annoying, and expensive, we keep it close. Attached nails I never forget. But I would not go back home to retrieve a nail. Computers never caused me physical pain. I caused my feet anguish which they returned in misery.

Drop my phone in a toilet – get a new one. Drop this toenail in a toilet, I’d get it out, rinse and dry it off and I’d keep it. People joke about me and my toenail in a bottle. But while a painful memory, it’s a life treasure.

No longer a runner, my marathon streak ended at number 15, the Steamtown Marathon. This one was in the New Mexico portion of the Chihuahuan Desert for nine painful, grueling hours. Blisters as big as my feet, pain from self-abuse, all my toenails turned black. Some fell off.

I made stops at medical tents for foot care and to dump all that sand and desert scree from inside my shoes. During the short refreshing rests and pee breaks, I observed more serious casualties. Some turned back and limped or rode a golf cart home, others took the more serious ambulance rides. It was freezing at the start of the race one mile up and a hot high-desert afternoon when I finished. The blessed mountain top view from another thousand feet up brought a slight smile that said now we’re going down there.

I did the same event over the next three years as a wiser, more experienced participant. Finished all four New Mexico marathons (and the other 11) walking catawampus supported by ego and a feeling of achievement that defies words. It was more than a high. It hurt so good! That toenail is my reminder. I’m keeping it. You can have this other stuff.

© Bill Reynolds, 4/12/2019

Look both ways. Our greatest achievements will always be
the most difficult and painful.
Mind the gaps, wear good shoes, and take care of your feet.
Your nails look great!

All turned black, three fell off.

Poetry: Someday (NaPoWriMo) Day Three

Today’s challenge is to write something (a poem) that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Furthermore, the poem might focus on imagery, sound, emotional content, or all three!

Someday

Single, more than a little confused,
too young to drink legally,
yet old enough to wear a uniform
and to carry a loaded gun and
to kill the right people.

Black and white memories flash
with Kodachrome images of the
the dismal rolling landscape of west Texas,
under cloudless skies loved
by jack rabbits, rattlesnakes, and other natives.

We stood side-by-side watching big silver
eight-engine birds pushing black smoke,
shaking concrete runways and buildings,
and digging into a young man’s bones and his soul,
calling me. “Come son. The sky will be ours.”

Dreamily I said, “I will fly those birds someday.”
His white teeth showed through a friendly grin
of disbelief. I didn’t know how or when,
or maybe I doubted it too. A dream too big?
Marriage and then college, and real life happened.

I let that dream die. My family was my life.
Mom was proud. My aunt bought me my ring.
Then waiting, sitting alone. Again, the sound.
“Come back to us. The skies are ours.”
My call to go where men find glory.

Again, wearing a uniform. Soon, months pass.
Then an officer and a gentleman.
My ups and downs, but then silver wings adorn.
My choices, Phantoms of glory, movers and shakers,
spinners and winners, or an old memory

of my friend’s doubtful smile. My dream.
The twenty-year-old lumbering big jet
called me “son” years back when I stood there
in younger man’s clothes. The sights and the smells,
sounds not so sweet as the memory of that day,

When I told the world and I saw the black smoke,
“Someday I’ll come back and together we’ll fly.”
One day we landed on that west Texas base,
I stood on the same spot as he and I had.
I smiled and said, “Today is my someday.”

©Bill Reynolds, 4/03/2019

‘Check six’ is flyboy for look both ways. The discipline is minding the gaps.

Poetry: The Tractor

The tractor rests, over near the barn
she’s not minding the cold, snow, and ice of winters
nor the dry pounding heat of summers,
a little rust, peeling paint, heavy worn tires,
little more than time causes the hulk any harm.

Made to plough and cumber a heavy beam, this ox
of steel and rubber carried men to the work
of sowing seeds with a seeder and a drill,
for tilling of soil with tiller and rotary box.

This mammoth hand of farm and ranch alike
pushes and pulls all kind of cultivator and harrow,
she drags wagons full of fertilizer to make
bull and cow shit fly over ditch and burrow.

Pulling mowers and rakes for the gathering of hay,
with bailers in tow bringing seed in to feed,
with tires made heavy with water in and mud out,
that tough old tractor stands ready for more work.

The Case International, the Massy Ferg’ and the old Ford;
the John Deere and the New Holland or Caterpillar rig.
Germany’s Fendt and Japan’s Kubota.
Canada has a claim with Cockshutt tractors.

Maker of the world’s finest cars will not be omitted,
As Italians lay claim to the craft for the harvest
with a Lamborghini (seriously) trattori pulling that shit.

This old boy was just a wee lad
when he grabbed hold of the wheel
for learning to drive in the only front seat
of a farmer named Dixon and his old Massy Ferguson
we all had great fun in the summer’s hot sun
as the day’s work of the land got done,
for the wheat and the hay (and a little play).

©Bill Reynolds 3/11/2019